Why Standards Are Important in Inkjet

By Inkjet Insight Guest Contributor / Published:

Mike Todryk, IWCO Direct

When we start to talk about standards regarding printing, many images can come to mind. I had a friend in the 90s who was an ISO Certification manager. The company he worked for was ISO 9000 compliant, and it was his job to keep up with all of the paperwork and procedures required to maintain that certification. It was a full-time job of writing compliance documents. For me, watching paint dry would have been more exciting.

I have been a part of the ISO group that covers printing for almost two years now. I remember mentioning that to one of our VPs who looked at me in horror that we would even want to be a part of trying to maintain standards. While standards can mean many things to many people and not all of them are good, the reality is standards do have a place in printing, even in inkjet. Let’s look at how printing with standards can help you.

Not All Standards Are the Same

For some people who have a basic understanding of standards, printing to standards means printing to ISO 12647-2. In an inkjet environment, some wonder how they can do that when their inks look nothing like ISO standard inks. Others may look at it from a creative point of view and think standards would limit them. I saw this a lot when I did dye sublimation printing for the fashion industry. Still others may have never thought of standards at all. They do not understand what all the fuss is about.

The fact of the matter is that printing to standards doesn’t necessarily mean printing to ISO standards. When I set up printers and presses to print dye sublimation, we printed to our own custom internal standard. For us, it was a way to get consistency across different platforms. This is not to say that ISO standards have no place in inkjet, they do. Even our custom dye sublimation standard was based on the standard of G7. It is a matter of finding what works for you.

Standards Help You Match Across Multiple Platforms

If you only have one printer, the only thing you probably care about is printing all the color that you can. As soon as you have multiple printers that need to match each other, standards become very important. If you need to be able to move work from one machine to another or spread the same job across multiple machines without having to repurpose the art, you need some kind of standard to separate and print to.

At IWCO Direct, we have established a standard for both coated and uncoated stocks. Every printing technology, including our 12 production web inkjet devices, are calibrated and managed to one of those two standards, depending on stock. This allows us to have a shared appearance throughout a direct mail package that may have been printed across many different technologies and stocks.

Standards Yields Similar Results

One reason to use ISO standards or characterized reference print conditions (CRPCs) as your standard to print to is they can give you results that are consistent with what others are seeing or printing.

One of the reasons to print with managed grays is it will give you a shared appearance with everyone else doing the same thing. If you are printing to ISO standards, you are producing a product that is more consistent with what people are used to seeing, either designers looking at screens or consumers looking at magazines and other materials that have been printed to standards. Standards are built into our design software, and they are built into them for a reason.

Standards can seem scary, but they are something that can and should be embraced by everyone producing print, even inkjet. Standards can help you gain a greater consistency and flexibility. Standards are constantly evolving, embracing new technologies like metal decoration and expanded gamut printing. Look into ways to utilize standards today.

Mike Todryk is a Color Technical Specialist for IWCO Direct. He has more than 20 years of printing industry experience and has specialized in Color Management for the last 18.

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